Export then print multiple Library topics (Beta)

We recently introduced a Beta version of the “Print/Export Multiple Topics” feature in the TechNet Lightweight Library. The Print/Export feature enables readers to:

  • Create and organize a custom collection of Library topics
  • Export the collection to a PDF or HTML document
  • Print the collection

How do I get started?

There are several prerequisites for using this feature:

  • You must be running a browser that implements HTML5 DOM Storage: Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3.5, Safari 4 or Chrome 5 (or higher versions of these browsers)
  • You must be in the Lightweight view of the TechNet Library. Click on the ‘Lightweight’ link in the upper right-hand corner of the Library to change views.
  • You need a Microsoft account

To enable the feature, click the printer icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page and select ‘Print Multiple Topics’ from the drop-down. If you’re running IE8 or higher and you don’t see this option, verify that you’re in Browser Mode IE8 (or higher) and Document Mode IE8 (or higher). You can change these settings under Tools (Alt + X), F12 developer tools.

PMT

Read the “Print/Export Multiple Topics – Help” page that appears for instructions on how to use this feature. When you’re ready, click on the ‘Start’ button to begin building a collection. You’ve successfully enabled the feature when the Print Multiple Topics toolbar appears at the top of the page:

PMT Toolbar

How do I create and organize my collection?

The collection is a user-defined subset of Library topics. The collection persists between browser sessions so you can start a collection, shut down the browser, and return to the collection at a later time. The feature currently supports one and only one collection. To create a new collection, you must delete the current collection and start over. At this time the collection cannot be saved or shared.

You add either single topics or entire branches of topics to the collection in one of three ways:

  1. While viewing a topic, click on the ‘Add This Topic’ link in the toolbar.
  2. Right-click on any topic hyperlink and select ‘Add This Topic’ from the context menu.
  3. Right-click on a node in the Table of Contents and select ‘Add This Set of Topics’ from the context menu.
    addtopicset

At this time, we limit collections to a maximum of 100 topics. As I’ve noted in the past, the Library is large and we don’t want to be responsible for sending three million topics to your printer. The Beta evaluation will help us determine if a 100-topic maximum is sufficient.

When you’re done adding topics to the collection, click on the ‘Collection’ link in the toolbar to open the Manage Collection page.

manage

This page enables you to organize your collection and provides access to the export capability. Topics can be organized in two ways: 1) you can change the order of topics and branches using the drag-and-drop feature of the Manage Collection page, and 2) you can organize groups of topics into chapters.

You can also assign custom names to the collection and its chapters. In the picture above, the collection is named “My Collection” and it has two chapters (PowerShell and SQL Server) that organize the topics. Title and Chapter pages will be added to your collection during the export process.

Finally, your collection persists on the computer on which it was created and is accessible until deleted or until the browsing history is cleared (i.e. cookies, cache, etc.)

How do I export the collection?

Before you can print your collection, you must export it. To export the collection, generate a document in your chosen output format and then download the document to your local machine. Two output formats are supported: HTML and PDF.

  1. Click on the ‘Collection’ link in the toolbar to open the Manage Collection page.
  2. Review your selections to ensure you’re ready to export.
  3. Select an output format. Choose either ‘XHTML’ (HTML) or ‘PDF’ from the dropdown menu.
  4. Click on the ‘Generate’ button. If you haven’t already logged in, you will be prompted for your Live ID and then you’ll need to click on the ‘Generate’ button again.
    When you see the “Generating” page your file has been submitted to an Azure service for processing. This page provides status on your Export job. You can wait for your job to complete or continue browsing and return to this page at a later time.
  5. When your document is ready, the page name changes to “Finished.” Click on the ‘Download Your Document’ link to download and open the file or right-click on the download link to save the file directly to your hard drive.

generating

How do I print the collection?

Again, you must export the collection before you can print it. HTML files can be printed from your browser, once opened. PDF files can be printed from Adobe Reader.

What are the Advanced Options?

A set of Advanced Options is available on the “Manage Collection” page. These options enable you to add additional Library content to your exported file. Click on the expand icon to the left of the Advanced Options section to reveal these options:

options

Can I view this content on a Kindle?

Yes. Instructions for transferring PDF files to your Kindle are available on Amazon.com. (Click to view larger image.)

TechNet Kindle

When will this feature be available on MSDN?

We decided to start the Beta program for this feature on TechNet and we’ll expand it to MSDN at a later (to be determined) date. Why? The ability to export Library topics has been a highly requested TechNet feature since IT Pros don’t have the equivalent of the Visual Studio local Help Viewer.

How do I provide feedback on this feature?

We’ll be posting a survey on this feature in the near future but, in the meantime, you can provide feedback by clicking on the Feedback link at the bottom of a Library page or you can leave a comment on this blog.

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8 Comments

  1. Tom Yates
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the article.

    I am sorry for being off-topic, I asked the following question in the thread for a different article, and it seems it has fallen through the cracks:

    I would like to resurrect an old inquiry made by a reader of your blog here:

    http://thirdblogfromthesun.com/2011/03/new-local-help-viewer-available-in-visual-studio-2010-sp1/#comment-595

    Could you tell us what is going on with topics on Win32 missing in the TOC? Similarly to BV, I – and many of my colleagues – develop client applications. The absolute majority of topics we are interested in are not currently in the TOC. Examples: CreateWindow, CB_ADDSTRING, TBBUTTON, SetClipboardData, IRichEditOle, all related overviews, etc.

    [Added later: It turns out the topics on .NET 3.5 also can not be found in the TOC. The same topics for .NET 4.0 are in the TOC. Examples: System.String class, TypeLib class, Assembly to Type Library Conversion Summary, Type Library Exporter (Tlbexp.exe), etc.]

    In the linked subthread, Paul O’Rear from Microsoft said that the problem is going to be fixed “within around the next week or so”. That was in May 25. We are two months past the supposed fix date now, the problem is still not fixed. Could you please check what’s going on?

    • Jeff Braaten
      Posted August 11, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Yes. I will look into these issues and post back on this thread when I have solid answers. (I’ve been unable to provide you a progress update on the email address you provided.) Thanks for taking the time to pass along this feedback.

      • Tom Yates
        Posted August 27, 2011 at 5:34 am | Permalink

        Any updates? It’s been more than two weeks…

        • Ray
          Posted August 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

          September 1, almost a year and a half with this awful bug, more than 3 months since the date of the promised fix, more than 3 weeks since Jeff’s promise to look into what’s going on.

          You really dropped the ball on this one.

        • Jeff Braaten
          Posted August 31, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

          Earlier today we released updates to “Win32 and COM Development” and “.NET Framework 3.5” that fix the issues you’ve described. These can be installed or updated using the Help Library Manager. Thanks for your persistence, Tom.

          • Tom Yates
            Posted September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for the update, it does fix the problem for most topics. It does not fix the problem for all topics, though. The following topics still can not be found in ToC:

            Assembly to Type Library Conversion Summary – .NET Framework 3.5
            Packaging an Assembly for COM – .NET Framework 3.5
            How to: Install an Assembly into the Global Assembly Cache – .NET Framework 3.5
            How to: Remove an Assembly from the Global Assembly Cache – .NET Framework 3.5
            How to: View the Contents of the Global Assembly Cache – .NET Framework 3.5
            … others for .NET 3.5

            Certificate Class (Microsoft.Office.InfoPath)
            Certificate Members (HTTP)
            HttpCookie Members (HTTP)
            PreSubSuper Members
            (the latter topic can be found via “PreSubSuper class” in the index)
            … others for Office / BizTalk.

            There are many other misses, I am sure. I wonder if there is a way to verify that all topics are registered in ToC via an automatic test.

  2. Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    This is an amazing feature, something i will be using a great deal. Now if it would just spit out a .mobi directly to my kindle e-mail address i’d be in love.

    • Jeff Braaten
      Posted August 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Scott. I’ve passed your suggestion along to the engineering team.

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